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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Jerry's voice

As heads I guess we tend to overlook some criticisms most folks have against the dead, like the vocals. Not just Jerry but the others as well. Depending on the year of the gig I'm playing, many times the person will ask me, "what's with that guy's voice?" or "they made that gut a singer?" This wasn't always the case. Jerry was never Marvin gaye but he wasn't always froggy either. So, what is the last year you think Jer's vocals are at the top of his game? I'll throw out '77.

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Poster: Tito&Smokey Date: Nov 14, 2007 5:28pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I like his late 70s and also his early 90s voice...as a matter of fact,my three favorite parts of the GD are,in this order,Garcias Guitar,his vocals,and then his back-up vocals

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Poster: Solo Head Date: Nov 14, 2007 7:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Garcia's voice was only the instrument for his interpretation of the lyrics. He coudn't changed how he sounded , but he sure could improve on his phrasing and styling of the tunes, which as we have seen was ever changing.

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Poster: cousinkix1953 Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

"that is basically what makes it interesting. people that require flawless, album-copy performances do not listen to the dead. it is just that simple."

AMEN... Listen to somebody else if you demand vocal perfection...

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

jer was god, let's leave it at that.

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Poster: He Live's Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

boy...the archive is really slow right now...so i cant throw a bunch of links on here BUT, anytime you question the merit of just one part of the dead you are gonna be on shakey ground. the very nature of the thing is imperfection, diamonds in the rough...

that is basically what makes it interesting. people that require flawless, album-copy performances do not listen to the dead. it is just that simple.

HOWEVER, you gotta give old jer at least up through '80. (i dont really listen much past 1980 so....) he is very exposed during the acoustic performances and just SHINES....check china doll from 10-26-1980.

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Poster: snori Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

'Soon you will not hear his voice' always worried me whenever he sang that line. However that cigarette croak he had seemed to add poignancy and expression when it broke at the right moment eg some 90s Stella Blue, Standing on the Moon, and of course So many roads.

Hair standing up on the back of your neck, anyone ?

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Poster: swamprabbit Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I agree that many people that aren't into the Dead (like my wife) point to vocals as a severe shortcoming. Play a Phil song or a Donna screech for a non-deadhead and they will truly wonder what all the hub-bub was about. But I tend to disagree about Garcia's vocals going downhill. Sure his voice became hoarse and croaky - but to me this only added a level of pathos and maturity to the music. As others have pointed out - his vocals on songs like Standing on the Moon and Stella Blue towards the end are extremely powerful. In fact, one of the few things my wife does like about the Dead are Garcia's vocals. You can really see the maturity in Garcia's voice when you examine his non-Dead projects like "The Pizza Tapes." I just don't think a younger Garcia could pull off these songs with the same level of emotion.
On a side note I often wonder about folks on this site who complain about vocals, missed lyrics etc. Some people get really hung up about this. This has never been an issue for me - if I wanted perfect silky smooth vocals I wouldn't turn to the Grateful Dead.

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Poster: FeelingHeady Date: Nov 14, 2007 2:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I heard a good quote a few days ago, Happiness makes up for in height what it lasts in length. I think this is a perfect place to bring this up...

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Poster: Troll Flamer Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

i wood have replyed sooner but i had to look in the dicktionary so i could spell HUH!!!

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Poster: FeelingHeady Date: Nov 14, 2007 2:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I heard a good quote a few days ago, Happiness makes up for in height what it lasts in length. I think this is a perfect place to bring this up...

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 15, 2007 12:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Jerry's speaking voice had what I call the "San Francisco accent".
I don't recall if he was originally from the City, but I think he spent a number of years growing up in the Mission/Excelsior district.

I remember talking with Hank Harrison about this subject, the "San Francisco accent".
He dug that I was the first person he knew of (besides himself perhaps) that realized there even was such a patois, tho I would think it probably wasn't me who first discerned the SF accent.

It's kinda like a mixture of New York and I'm not sure what.

It's only noticeable on certain words, unless, like Jerry, it seemed to permeate their entire speech dialect or accent.

I really like the way it sounds.

Only a few people out of many thousands from SF that I've heard have had any trace of the "accent".

It's all but vanished on local media, as far as I can tell.



My father kind of had a SF accent.

Roger Boas had one.

Some of the SF Giants broadcasters had one, like Russ Hodges and Lon Simmons (I can't recall for sure if they both did).

Tom Donahue had it - he did a promo for the Grateful Dead in '67 that uses clips from their 1st lp... the promo is filler on a cassette I have of 3-1-1969.





I really liked Jerry's early singing voice, especially that quiver-vibratto when he hollared the final word in a stanza.

I don't know all the correct terms, but that's the gist of it.

He still had a lot of emotion in his voice after 1980, but it's painful for me to listen to him strain and crack.

Still, I can understand why some of you love that period of his singing.
He did mature and there was a lot of feeling there. Feeling he tried to numb.

But Jerry's singing voice sounded so happy, confident, devil-may-care from 1962-1969, and then he got surprisingly good for a year or so - circa 1970.

And he didn't have that lisp yet in his speaking voice he developed later...
when he began to slur words in his interviews he almost sounded gay, sorry to say.

Not (to paraphrase a Seinfeld bit) that there's anything wrong with sounding gay.




This post was modified by cream-puff-war on 2007-11-15 08:16:30

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 14, 2007 7:39pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

S.F. accent? I thought it was stoner hipster talk.

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

a lot of guys did the stoner hipster talk schtick; George Carlin did a great parody of the style.

But Jerry brought something else to the table besides his stoney way of gabbing and giggling... it's that accent... how many other people can you think of in the "hip" beatnik head set can you think of that had speaking voices with similar accents as Jerry?

I wish it wasn't so hard to define... but I know what I mean!

This post was modified by cream-puff-war on 2007-11-15 04:09:40

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I know what you're getting at. Famus example - 5-8-77

" you see all these people are getting horribly smaaashed here" exmphasis on how he drags out the a in smash. Am I right? But now can you prove the SF connection? What other famous people who are from SF spoke like that?

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 15, 2007 1:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

gawd, so many people must be streaming 5-8-77 at any given time, it's hard for slow burners like me using a 5 year old dsl modem running on fumes to que it up.

Finally got a chance to hear the step back stage banter.
yeah, it's the smash, also the way he says "so"... it's in almost every word, drawled or not.
But you get the picture; thanks for hearing my theory out.

Here's my final summation, the SF people's exhibits A-Z:

5 or 6 guys who had/have the "SF accent":

Dave McElhatten (retired KPIX tv news anchor)

Roger Boas (SF Mayor candidate, used car salesman)

Hank Harrison (author and The Warlocks' manager, he has a slight SF accent)

Tom Donahue (KYA dj and manager of Mother's - North Beach nightclub)

Russ Hodges, Lon Simmons (Giants KTVU baseball announcers)

Jerry Garcia (musician, scuba diver, painter)




This post was modified by cream-puff-war on 2007-11-15 09:00:51

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 15, 2007 8:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Tom Donahue is the only guys voice I can vaguely remember but I don't remember him sounding like that. I'll take your word for it. I'm from the East Bay which all the Penninsula snobs ( including Jerry ) look down their noses at. Whatever I always said. We had better weather : )

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 15, 2007 8:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Tom Donahue is the only guys voice I can vaguely remember but I don't remember him sounding like that. I'll take your word for it. I'm from the East Bay ( so I'm an A's fan not Giants )which all the Penninsula snobs ( including Jerry ) look down their noses at. Whatever I always said. We had better weather : )

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 15, 2007 6:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Donahue had a variation on the SF accent, so he doesn't sound exactly like Garcia...
I wish I had a link for at least that GD promo Tom Donahue did, and then you could hear a primo sample of der patois.

Meanwhile, I just caught a neat little example of Jerry G. talking SF style, right after Hard To Handle ends on March 8, 1970:

http://www.archive.org/details/gd70-03-08.sbd.9195.sbeok.shnf

Attachment: garseeya.jpg

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 17, 2007 6:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

eventually I should be able to digitize that TOm Donahue promo, then have it where you can hear it for comparison's sake.

The San Francisco accent takes many forms, many strains, and is all but extinct - if it ever existed at all.

Smaaaashed!

Attachment: Mothers.jpg
Attachment: DeadMnasid.jpg

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Poster: jackstraw86 Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I tend to agree with Dire's comments - 1980 was probably the last more or less consistent good year for Jer's voice but he did hava great moments even into the late 80s if the night/cheistry was right. As far as his playing goes, with the Dead I think the decline began after Brent passed. BUT I think he maintained the good old guitar spark until the end when playing with others, JGB and Grisman, etc.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2007 2:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I really think that it was all down hill after 1970. Seriously...I saw him many times in 74 thru 82, and his voice NEVER came close, IMHO, to what I knew to be true for 70. Still good, once in a while, but not strong and pure.

Very harsh and judgmental. I know. Don't bother to send all those cards and vicious emails...

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:04pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

indeed harsh, as I think his voice didn't go downhill dramatically until after Go To Heaven.

But, he did begin to lose some of the strength or wind in his vocal range or db ability after 1970.

That year was the apex of his vocal powers. Coaching from Crosby, Stills and Nash helped get the Dead in their new improved harmony arrangements in 1970...
when they really did make a concious effort to get it right.

Before that, it was catch as catch can. After 1970 they began to slowly slough off.

And then it got bad. Bobby started shouting more than sing, Phil's beautiful high range was knocked out...

and Jerry, got old. Lost his range, the smoking of Camels and everything.

It was the Airplane who got the early accolades for their soaring harmonies between Balin and Anderson, later Grace (who was hit and miss, but on a good night was quite good).

Janis, well now she gets voted as one of the top 5 female singers ever.

Back then, she got mixed reviews for her early work, and slightly warmer reviews for her post Big Brother.

But she was the feather in the whole SF hippie blues revival - and even early on she did some amazing bits of tribute or recreation of certain classic blues singer nuances.

The Dead just winged it in the '60s. Jerry might have been the best overall singer in the band early on, his folk-bluegrass training put him ahead of the others.

But no one will ever sing or play exactly like him again.




This post was modified by cream-puff-war on 2007-11-15 04:04:15

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2007 5:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Well said, CPW; I agree with your take on it...I shall do penance. What do you think--three full days of reading the forum, good and bad posts alike?

Hail forum, full of grace,
Hallowed be thy post
Thy Music Forum come, thy Hook be done
On the Ethernet as it is my Heaven
Give us this day, our daily thread
And forgive us our flamers,
As we forgive those who flame against us
Lead us not into critiquing the DEAD
Now and at the hour of our logon

Amen

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Poster: cream-puff-war Date: Nov 14, 2007 5:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Amen brother!
lol + kudos for your prayer!


Butt, 3 full days of forum reading?
that might cause irreversible brain damage.

No, just some good old self-flaggelation, 40 days of fasting, 10 Hail Jerrys and 10 How's Ya Fatahs!





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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Lobster, believe it or not I was going to make this exact post. So obviously it is a good one : )

I agree 100% with your assessment. It seems easy to prove too. All we need to do is check out the number of laryngitis moments Jerry had in 78. While he still had a sweet voice 78-81, it was definately weaker and more hit and miss than it ever was 77 and before. I used to think it was the smokes but then I thought maybe it was the freebase. Coincidently wasn't 78 the year jerry started smoking Heroin? Perhaps that was the culprit?

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

rabbit, your wrong, just listen to the dead circa 1970, any old black peter, and jerry's voice is chock full of sweet lilting emotion. he started smoking black persian in 75 while editing the grateful dead movie, it just didn't catch up with him till later on.

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Poster: swamprabbit Date: Nov 14, 2007 10:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Yeah I'm not saying it got better - just different. Less "sweet lilting" and more dark, tired, and morbid. Listen to Garcia's throaty rasp on a 1985 Black Peter and you'll find a completely different set of emotions than one from 1970. And for me at least "happiness is a sad song" (not sure who said that). I guess I just see an evolution more than a disintegration. Then again unlike many on this site I enjoy all eras of the Dead.

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Nov 14, 2007 12:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

As much as I love this band, the vocals have never been much more than an afterthought to me. Some of Pig's grittier blues outings packed a wallop, and Jerry had an emotional way of getting certain songs across in the first half of the band's career, but overall, it's the songs themselves, the ever-shifting interpretations and the jams that really take the Dead to the next level for me. The singing is (usually) just sort of a minor sideshow to me.

Others have pretty well nailed it here. Early in his career, ol' Jer had a pretty decent set of pipes- I think his voice, while not technically very impressive, was a pretty expressive instrument. Everything was fine up until about 1978 or so. The early Mydland years saw an almost imperceptible (at first) decline in his range and tone, due almost certainly to increased drug usage and rapidly diminishing lung capacity. By 1982 the drop-off had become really notable and, and by mid 1983 he possessed little more than a weak, reedy rasp. There was a slight improvement in the late 80s, but the days when he could really sing were gone for good.

Weir's vocals, I always felt, were passable- nothing more, nothing less. He didn't (and still doesn’t) have much range of emotion, but he could carry a tune.

I was never a fan of Phil's singing. It was pretty cool at first when he started stepping up to the mike again in the mid-80s, but once the novelty of "Let Phil Sing!" wore off there really wasn't much to get excited about. As stated in a recent thread, the studio version of "Box of Rain" was pretty much Phil's peak vocally.

The less said about Donna's contributions, the better.

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Poster: FeelingHeady Date: Nov 14, 2007 2:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

I heard a good quote a few days ago, Happiness makes up for in height what it lasts in length. I think this is a perfect place to bring this up...

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Poster: Robony Date: Nov 15, 2007 6:45am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

A non-head friend of mine hit the nail on the head. He said of Garcia's voice, "He ain't much of a singer, but IT FITS!"

There was no better vioce to interpret Hunter's lyrics. It fits.

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 15, 2007 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

well put

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

i think he was still pretty strong in '78 too, but started slipping in '79 - still love his voice in 79-80 though.

it started to become some serious toast in '82

if memory serves (which is doubtful)


GO PATS

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Poster: mcgannahan Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

from what i can hear, 82-83, the drugs and health issues are taking it's toll. how bout his playing? the thing he did best? when did that slide?

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Poster: johnnyonthespot Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:44am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

" the thing he did best? when did that slide? "

two times imo. 84-86 and 92-95

and I would put his vocals early 70's just as up there as his playing in sweetness and uniqueness

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 14, 2007 8:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Dire,

I'm sure the celts bandwagon must be in full force with folks back there

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:11am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

HUGE!!!!

sold out season's tix in mere nanoseconds

most national rankings have them between #1 and #4 - and they sure look it. granted they havent gone out west yet, but they are only going to get better.

Ainge stuck with his plan even when under fire - pure genious

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Poster: lobster12 Date: Nov 14, 2007 9:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Friend of mine said the same thing. he did say he is concerned the big 3 are playing too many minutes. He said if one goes down they could be in trouble.

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Poster: bluedevil Date: Nov 14, 2007 1:44pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

age - fresh legs in november may not be so good come next spring....

and who the hell can think about the nba until after the start of april.... give me college hoops

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Poster: William Tell Date: Nov 14, 2007 2:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

Hey!? I said it first...back when he bit the ear off Tree Rollins...

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Poster: Tito&Smokey Date: Nov 14, 2007 5:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

No,Ainge is a Pure toilet,and he got lucky.Doc Rivers is still probably the worst bench coach in basketball,and im a huge Celtics fan

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Poster: direwolf0701 Date: Nov 14, 2007 6:34pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

you can have your opinion

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Poster: caspersvapors Date: Nov 14, 2007 1:57pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Jerry's voice

+1 for 1980

but my favorite vocal performances by Jerry are probably in 78